This is the story of John Pú’ŋwɑ̀’ni1 —
John is a young boy born in a beautiful country in Africa, a country with no natural disasters such as tornado, tsunami, earthquake, a country that has sun all year round, water, plants that can heal almost all diseases, a rich soil that can produce nearly all types of food,
various natural resources such as cobalt, cocoa beans, iron, uranium, copper, cotton, oil, gold, diamond, natural gas, silver, sugar, woods, coffee, people with diverse dialects, and culture…
At a very early age, John joins school very excited to learn about his country. Instead of being taught in one of the local languages,
John has to learn French and English, two languages inherited from colonialism. These languages are the exclusive languages of teaching at school.
John learns them diligently and is very impressed by those who can speak it very well. Unconsciously, he develops a high esteem for such people and despises those who can’t speak it well.
To teach John the alphabet, his instructors use books written by the colonists. As a consequence, John learns analogies such as “A for Apple” or “I for Igloo” but can’t relate to the words since he has never seen a real “Apple” or “Igloo” in his life.
As John grows up, he learns from various books that his country was discovered by the colonists. He asks himself how they could discover a country where people were leaving before?
At school, John gets mostly exposed to books discussing the history of the colonists, their literature, style, philosophy, economy, cloth, and so on.
He becomes very knowledgeable about the colonists and tries to identify himself with their way of thinking, clothing, eating.
One day, John decides to leave his country to pursue higher education in its colonist’s country which seems more familiar and advanced to him than his own country.
Abroad, John develops little interest in themes such as agriculture, natural medicine for improved health, renewable energy, entrepreneurship
that are critical for the development of his country but learns instead about technologies used in western countries that have no practical applications in his country.
After a few years, John graduates from a “Top” school with zero knowledge about how he can support and develop his country. He gets employed and starts serving as an educated “slave”.
After living some years abroad, John comes to the true reality that he does not belong there but hesitates to come back for few reasons; he doesn’t know his country, he doesn’t know its potential, he doesn’t know whom to trust there. Meanwhile, his former colonist came to the country and exploited most of its resources.
John sadly realizes that he has FOOLED…
…FOOLED by the colonist who put in place a system that demotes proper education so he can continue to be used as his modern slave.
…Although this sounds like a sad and bad science fiction movie, it is actually the sad reality of millions of Africans who finds out after many years of education and employment that they have been alienated by the education system….
Few questions for You:
- Is the African education system suited for Africans?
- Can you relate to John’s story as well? If yes, how?
- What can be concretely done to help the future generation?
- Pú’ŋwɑ̀’ni means “book” in Nufi, A language spoken in West Cameroon